Almost exactly four years ago I published an interview with the redoubtable Andy Cole, aka Luv Jam, a man of many mixes, styles and somewhat of a "DJs DJ". I say this never having seen him live, but having heard his devotion to careful selection through the myriad of mixes he posts online. He's also a label owner, recording artist and discerning student of visual distinction, the product he purveys being as recognisable and original as anything currently out there. The interview done way back then also featured the first Cacophonous Bling podcast, something that has recently fallen on hard times. So, what better way to revive it than with a new Luv Jam exclusive mixed in his secret shed, as well as a few words.
Here they are, unexpurgated.
The last time we spoke was four years ago, more or less. Just after the London Olympics. Well, it’s Rio in just over a week so how have things developed for you within this time?
Thanks for asking, yes good, ups, downs, loops to form and here we are again. Everything has been busy, lots of great records nipping about all over the world and weve gained a lovely following here and there. I like to think we’re becoming known for putting out some ‘not so obvious’ bits and bobs
with a bit more depth than your average record, so you tell me…
You’re now overseeing how many labels? Last time we spoke about Crow Castle Cuts and Blind Jack’s Journey, both of which are still going strong. They’ve since been joined by Legend of Gelert. Is there any sonic distinction between these different labels, and what unites them more than anything else?
Crow Castle is now resting in peace after the original 4, then the RAW4.
Blind Jacks was meant to be doing something similar, but old Jack had more life left in him so he keeps on meandering around the Nidd valley. The Legend of Gelert has always been a bit of an obsession, as too is the Snowdonia range of peaks so we linked the 2 together for hopefully another compelling series. And rather than climbing, we start from the top and work down from Snowdonia itself, down to the lowest of the 14 peaks. Foel Fras
Sonically – they follow a similar flavour really tbh, but perhaps a little more dreamy again, a little ambient too, dare I say it. What unites them is that ‘dreamy, nippy, boppy’ edge!
All your labels have a strong, visual personality. Many of them are pressed on coloured vinyl and if they’re not hand-stamped, the labels are often photographic, many featuring animals. Why this specific identity and how important is the package in relation to the music?
Thanks. I am a visual artist, so this aspect appeals to me. Its something
we want to collect, something aesthetic. I get asked to do productions all the time, and if I don’t like how a label looks, then I’m not interested! Am I a design snob? Well, yes, of course I am. You wouldn’t think it to look at me, mind you.
However, I do like my records to look the part! It goes hand in hand with the music, of course it does. If an image stands out, you may be persuaded to buy it, perhaps, be all and end all, is the music must stand up alone, but a little visual theme helps to unite a series. It’s the age old ethos of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ but of the books I own and even more of the records
They just so happen to look good too!
Do you have any idea of the respect that you’re held in amongst other producers, and other record labels, and how important is this to you?
I’m just going on instinct really, not so much what others may think, but
of course it’s important to know how I’m regarded. I guess some people would think ‘this is interesting’, some others might think ‘what the hell is this’
You’re still churning out mixes, many of them three hours plus. How do you find the time, and what constitutes a good one? What’s your strategy when playing and how technical are you in action? Is it vinyl, cds, files or a mix of everything and anything?
The word churning isn’t one I’d like to use ha ha, but yes, I am a bit over-indulgent in long mixes. I just find it impossible to do a 60 minute mix.
I just like a good epic journey of all sorts. I find a 60 minute mix of the same house music style throughout a bit dull. It also doesn’t worry me so much if a track doesn’t fit exactly right next to another one, it’s only a bit of fun, I’m not trying to be too serious about something. But contradicting myself, ideally, yes
I would love my mix series to sit in people’s collection of amazing mixes – and every now and then, the odd person tells me that ‘ive hit a chord’. Only recently somebody I met at a festival told me, that they would sit and listen to every minute of the dream house mixes and dream nipper mixes as they became live and that means a great deal. The strategy tends to be
Slow, ambient, weird, building to some throbbers and wigglers with a golden oldie thrown in here and there for good measure, plus a sprinkling of squelch
and a bit more oddness too, and sometimes quite a bit of poppy vocals.
A MIX – A MIXTURE right!?
What about the mix you’ve recorded to accompany this chat, is it typical of your usual approach?
Well this one, being as Machines Are Funky, your blog is one I love, then I’ve gone out of my way to pick up some right sneaky gems! There’s a real variety
of oddball samply stuff, some classic early house, that still sounds fresh, some new pieces and some out there housey bits… Ive tried to surprise myself with some of the tracks, finding out some amazing stuff I didn’t even know I owned, its been exciting finding these records!
How many records do you have in your collection, and how many could you do without?
Shed loads, literally.
But yes, some need to go, not many though, I had a huge ebay clearout
when I moved from South to North 12 years ago. There’s still some stuff that can go, but for the sake of either throwing it away, selling it for 3pence, or giving it to a friend I don’t really like, then I might as well keep it.
Do you have a day job?
How do you choose your gigs?
I’m not overly fussy, if somebody wants me, I go, why wouldn’t you; it’s an honour really, and usually amazingly good fun! This year I’ve played more free gigs than ever, as I wanted to play a few of the ‘proper’ parties again! Some of these have come by me asking the organizers to play rather than the other way around!! Then I get the odd booking that comes out of the blue, like my first Paris gig coming up and also a chance to play Vienna and Bratislava both for the first time too!
You don’t give the impression of being desperate to play, rather someone who can pick and choose based a relative detachment from what constitutes “the scene”. Is this accurate?
Kind of the above.
I try and gel things together, pieces of the jigsaw. When you say ‘scene’
you could say that the best gigs I have played are the ones, where
the promoter really is into what I’m all about, or they love the mixes or the labels – it then makes sense, they just get it! If I were to play before a drum and bass dj – then it wouldn’t really work. Sometimes you’re put into a schedule where it’s quite stressful to imagine how it should work, and those are usually not the best gigs.
How often do you play out in a typical month and do you have any favourite venues/gigs/parties?
Sometimes, I can be out there every weekend in a month, but then maybe not play out for a month or two. And guess what, I even have to turn a few gigs down sometimes. Most recent great set highlights have been
Cocktail D’amore in Berlin, Colours in Bristol was lively, as was House of House in Aberdeen. Bradley’s Rhythm Section is always jumping. Tante Emma in Innsbruck is a special one and Space Ritual in York is a cheeky little wiggly nipper!
Finally, what about the future of your productions? You must have an album in you and I’d imagine it’s going to have quite some breadth. When will one see the light of day?
I have made a body of work as it goes, I’m just not sure
A) it’s finished
B) its worthy and
C) what the hell to do with it.